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Story of Us…OKLAHOMA!

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Story of Us…OKLAHOMA!
Story of Us…OKLAHOMA!

Ninth grade is rough. I mean, I had just figured out how to navigate middle school and how not to completely humiliate myself throughout eighth grade and then you get thrust into a whole new school. You spend two years clawing your way to the top of the social pyramid of middle school only to be thrown to the floor by your new hierarchy, the seniors, so they can climb the rungs to their rightful place. Luckily, my sister and brother had both gone to school at Fort Myers High, so I wasn’t at a total loss. I had at least walked the halls before even if it was only to deliver something to my brother or see my sister win homecoming court or something. Heather had graduated a couple years earlier but Alan was still here, so socially I could cling to his popularity. Maybe I would be noticed by association. Or maybe I should hope to be ignored. Alan was a senior, on the football team, in the show choir and pretty well liked and popular. That had to be helpful right? That had to count as some sort of high school currency I could cash in at some point.

The first half of the year, I’m basically just figuring out how to not get run over in between periods in this massive place. If SFCA were a little league football field, this place was a Super Bowl arena. Where
did all of these people even come from?
I swear every kid in Lee County had to attend this school.  I found my solace in the choral classroom. I didn’t actually take chorus, but that was where the show choir met and both my siblings were in Soundwave, so I was pretty welcomed by the teacher, Mrs. Trent. Freshmen weren’t allowed so I wouldn’t be allowed to audition until next year, but the chorus room was right behind the theater and that felt like home almost immediately. My English teacher, Mr. Riis, was also the theater director, so between Mr. Riis’ room and Mrs. Trent’s room, I could find peace.

Although freshmen couldn’t audition for show choir, we could audition for the spring musical and I couldn’t wait! Theater had always been my passion and I knew this would be where I met people I could relate to. Where I’d be seen as cool and fit in. The department decided on OKLAHOMA for the show. I’m not a huge Roger’s and Hammerstein fan, but it would do fine. I submitted my audition packet and started thinking about what to sing to show they should cast a freshmen for the lead!

I got home and went to find my mom.

“Hey, mom! How ya feeling today?”

“ I’m fine baby. How was school?”

“ It was good. I signed up to audition for the musical. So that could be cool.” I said.

“ Oh good. I think your brother is doing that too!”

“ Really? Why? He’s never done the musical before.” I couldn’t decide if I was happy he was doing it or not. I mean, on one hand, I’d get to hang out with my brother, so that could be cool. On the other hand, he’d never done theater before. Why did he want to this year?

“ I don’t know. I think Mrs. Trent talked to him about it. Maybe he thought it would be fun to do it with his baby sister.” she said with a motherly tone.

I laughed, “Yeah, we’ll go with that.”  I said as I turned to walk upstairs with my stuff. “ But it could be fun.”

When audition day came, there was a decent turnout. Mostly kids from within the choral and theater program. We all signed in and got a number and then waited in the chorus room to be called. Once our number was shouted out, we would make our way to the stage and sing for the panel; which consisted of Mrs. Trent, Mr. Riis, and the student stage manager. I felt like I should be intimidated or nervous, but I wasn’t… not because of arrogance, but because I felt really relaxed. I knew Mrs. Trent for a couple of years and I knew Mr. Riis generally liked me, so I was pretty comfortable. After all, it was just singing.

I walked onto the stage and said, “ Hi. My name is Kayla and I’ll be singing ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ from ANNIE GET YOUR GUN.” I belted out the notes just as I had practiced and said, “thank you”. Then left the stage. NAILED IT.

About a week later, the cast list was posted. I waited all day at school as most of my classes were in the freshmen hall on the other side of campus. As soon as the final bell rang, I got my stuff from my locker and headed over to the chorus room. There was a small group of kids gathered around the bulletin board outside of the classroom. Everybody was giving each other high fives and quoting lines from the show, well, except one kid who seemed to be sulking off into the distance. But everyone else seemed pleased. I walked over to the sheet of paper tacked up and started browsing over the names. It didn’t take me long to find one I recognized. ALAN POWELL….. CURLY. Of course, he got the lead. Haha. Good for him. I kept scrolling and ran all the way down until I ran out of paper. Wait. Did I not get cast at all? I was so disappointed. I thought I did pretty well on my audition. My eyes scrolled through the list one more time and landed on Alan’s name again. Well, this sucks. Alan’s never done theater and he gets a lead, but I don’t get to be a part of it. I mean I’m a freshmen, so I get it, but still. I looked at Alan’s name one more time.

“Well, good for you bubba.”

As I withdrew to walk away, something caught my eyes. Wait. Was that my name? KAYLA POWELL….ADO ANNIE CARNES. I did get a part! I was so excited! I didn’t just get cast! I got a part! With lines and songs and everything! This was going to be so much fun.

Rehearsals went really well as I started getting to know some of the other “theater geeks”.  It was obviously a low budget production at a high school that didn’t value the arts that much, but it might as well have been Broadway to me. I dose doed and heel clicked all over that stage. We rehearsed almost everyday after school until finally it was show week! We had costume fittings and last minute blocking changes. It was so fun to be on a big stage. I had gone to the small private school attached to the church for middle school and our theater productions were embarrassing to say the least. We performed them in the space we had chapel which was the size of a large classroom that maybe sat a hundred people with no technical ability and no wing space. Now the auditorium at FMHS was not exactly the Gershwin but it was a step up.

Opening night finally arrived and I stayed at school after school to get ready. I grabbed dinner with some friends and hung out at the theater until call time. Once we got back, I settled into the dressing room with the other girls. I even got my own mirror, so I sprawled out all my makeup and checked my costume rack. Then I started applying the paint. My mom came into the dressing room.

(sierra, me, jessica, and alan after the show)

“Kayla!” she said in a loud whisper.

“ Hey! What are you doing back here?”

“ Come here. I have something for you.”

Awww. How sweet! I’ll bet my parents had gotten me flowers. Either that or they wanted me and my brother to take a picture together. One was sweet, the other kind of annoying, but what can you do?

“Hey, what’s up?” I said as I rounded the corner outside the dressing room.

“ Hey Kay! I’m supposed to say ‘break a leg’ right?” Jordan said as he held out a bouquet of yellow roses.

Oh my goodness! Jordan came?? How sweet!! How thoughtful! How considerate of my love for theater! How could he not tell me?? I was not prepared for this and I only had one eye with mascara on it. I’m basically hugging this gorgeous guy and I look like I have a lazy eye. It’s ok. I’ll just stand next to him this whole conversation and he’ll only see my profile…that’s not awkward. But he came!

“ Oh my stars! I can’t believe you’re here!” I said as I hugged him. “Thank you for coming.”

“ Of course. These are for you.” He handed me a beautiful bouquet of roses. I’ll look past the fact that yellow roses are supposed to be symbolic of friendship and just say HE BROUGHT ME FLOWERS! My nonboyfriend boyfriend came from three hours away to see a high school production of OKLAHOMA to bring me flowers. I wasn’t even the lead in this thing. I was playing the comedic support character. Uh oh. I was playing the girl who “cain’t say no”. Uh oh. I was playing the girl that had to kiss two different guys on stage….three times each… in front of my nonboyfriend boyfriend… who I’d only kissed once. I was about to increase my experience by 6 in front of him with other guys. He’d be ok with this right? Should I have talked to him about this first? I mean, it’s just acting.

“You are so sweet. They’re beautiful. I love them. Thank you.” I said and hugged him again. “When did you get here?”

“Jaime just picked me up and we turned around and came. We got here a couple hours ago.”

I laughed, “Well, she keeps a good secret.” I said with a smile.

“We’ll let you get ready. I’ll see you after the show.” He said and gave me one more hug and kissed me on the side of my head as he left with my mom. I sighed. He came.

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We are a family of four just trying to figure out what our "new normal" looks like in Manhattan! I'm Kayla, a 29-year-old creative with a passion for theater and writing. Jordan is a musician and experience pastor with a heart that loves people. And we have two awesome little girls, Jozlyn and Kendall. Our house is crazy...always full of energy and laughter.... and we have no idea what we're doing! Help us figure it out as we go!

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I'm Kayla. Mom of two, wife of one and new New York transplant. We're a family of four fumbling our way through our new normal in Manhattan! We're excited to learn as we go... we can't mess this up too bad, right? :)

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